Club for Boys X:Lab

Innovative new program at Club for Boys has the opportunity to prepare boys to fill critical jobs in the future

RAPID CITY, S.D. – It’s still a place for reading, but the library at the Club for Boys has transformed part of the area into an engaging place, called the X:Lab, where the students are using technology to learn and explore STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities. They are honing skills that may benefit them as adults.

Students are given the space to think, explore and master new skills. In line with the Rapid City Area Schools’ strategic plan to implement more STEAM programming, X:Lab is an extension of the learning that is happening in the classroom.

Stephen Tafoya, the director of education at the Club, says, “This is a big topic right now in the education world and the world at large, getting kids plugged into STEM and STEAM … the education world is wanting to prepare kids for jobs in computer science and the medical field, which has always been around, but with newer opportunities and newer technologies and ways to help people.”

In each lab, boys have more control over what they want to learn, giving them the opportunity to grow in what they are passionate about with programs like robotics, computer programming, 3D design, video production, music creation, virtual reality and more.

James “Cam” Abreu, director of Computer Aided Programs, said that the before X:Lab, the boys were just given worksheets after school, and now the program is more engaging. “By giving the kids ownership of their own work, soon all the kids want to do the work because it is their work, and they want to work on their projects.”

The boys enjoy exploring different skills and activities and are excited to be life-long learners.

It is estimated that within the next 10 years, jobs in the STEM sector will grow much faster than other sectors. In South Dakota, for example, a 2015 study indicated that there were 145 students graduating in computer science in the state and 600 job openings.

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